Whoever said retail is dead didn’t factor in spa parties. Offering a true antidote to the online shopping experience, a retail event can attract existing and new clientele to your business, build brand awareness and, of course, generate product sales. According to the Event Marketing Institute, 72 percent of consumers say that quality events make them view a brand positively, and 74 percent say engaging in such experiences makes them more likely to buy what’s being promoted. “You can create massive awareness and generate the kind of sales you would never have been able to do outside an event,” says Bobby Schandra, founder of Bobby Schandra Designs and creator of Profitable Spa Events Blueprint. Here, experts share their top tips for getting the party—and the selling—started.
There are built-in fundamentals to throwing a successful spa retail event. “The underlying goal may be to sell products and book services, but you should focus less on selling and more on providing genuine value to those who attend,” says Shannon Esau, CEO and national educator at Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals. To do this, Esau suggests making the event educational, like including demonstrations of brand new products or treatments, 10-minute talks that spotlight specific ingredients, or having an aromatherapy expert on hand to lead custom blending sessions. “Entice guests by providing them with access to people, products and knowledge that build an emotional connection to your company and the event,” adds Flora Delaney, author of Retail: The Second-Oldest Profession (Waterford & Howell Publishing, 2019).
Parties with a Purpose
Whether it’s to celebrate a new launch or partnership, generate excitement about a specific skincare line or introduce clients to a new service, there are plenty of reasons to throw a retail event. Luckily, the time of year is often the only impetus you need. “I always recommend choosing seasonal products to promote during spa retail events,” says Esau. “For instance, as summer approaches, you can focus on SPF, antioxidants and gentle brightening products to minimize sun damage.”
Bruce Schoenberg, owner of Oasis Day Spas in New York City and Westchester, New York, is also a fan of hosting seasonal events. At “The Eyes of March” party in anticipation of spring, he showcased Elemis, Éminence and G.M. Collin eye care, with all products offered to guests at a 15 percent discount, thanks to the spa’s partnership with each brand. “Vendors are no different from you—they have to move product because there’s an expiration date on skin care,” notes Schoenberg.
You can also plan your party in order to attract a specific type of client—so, a “Turn Back Time” antiaging event might include collagen-boosting serums and facials for interested spa-goers, while a “Date Night” could cater to couples with a variety of his-and-hers retail items and treatments. Schoenberg even throws parties for his best customers at exclusive “Client Appreciation Nights”—and calls them up personally to invite them.
Regardless of what you’ll be promoting, you can generate maximum interest with enticing incentives. “Make it clear that you’re offering special prices for the event that won’t be available at other times,” says Delaney. You might also promise a gift to the first 20 guests to arrive.
To effectively promote your retail parties, consider cohosting the event with other beauty and wellness businesses in your area. For instance, a medspa could team up with a jewelry designer for a night of “Botox & Bling,” similar to an event Schandra put on with a cosmetic surgery clinic. To come up with leads for profitable partnerships, Delaney suggests joining the Chamber of Commerce or a Business Network International (BNI) chapter. “Look for like-minded businesses that are focused on helping people be healthy and attractive,” she says. “For example, a local dentist might want to plug their whitening services at your party in exchange for cross-promoting the event and your spa.”
You can also generate publicity while helping your community by hosting a philanthropic event. “Don’t just partner with a random charity so you can put
it on your invitation, though—look for ones that are aligned with your mission,” says Schandra. For a “Success Is in the Bag” party that he hosted, guests who donated a designer purse were given credit toward the purchase of Schandra’s products. Ultimately, the event brought in 150 designer bags that were donated to a women’s organization, promoted goodwill in the community, got morning TV coverage—and generated a ton of retail sales.
Setting the Scene
From champagne and hors d’oeuvres to music and decor, certain touches will make your event feel less like a sales pitch while putting guests in a festive—and buying—mood. “It needs to have all the elements of a fun, social experience,” notes Schandra. Creating that atmosphere doesn’t have to be pricey, however. “Get some flowers and find co-vendors to supply things like food and wine,” suggests Schoenberg. “You can also transform your space by simply moving furniture around in the retail area.”
Other inexpensive extras might include balloons and a table with pretty gift bags. You could also raffle off a few small prizes—but to really increase perceived value and maximize attendance, be mindful of your target market and what matters most to them. “If it’s busy moms, give away a stress-relieving massage or pedicure. If it’s professional people, a travel-size skincare kit or a 10-minute morning makeup collection might be enticing,” explains Delaney, who says that these can be announced before the event to draw in attendees, as well as offered hourly throughout the party to encourage them to stick around. Pick music that puts people in a celebratory mood, as well. A curated playlist on your phone is an affordable option, but you might also consid hiring a DJ if that fits your budget and the atmosphere you’re looking to create.
Finally, make sure everyone hears about the party after the fact by making it as Instagramable as possible with a photo booth or special backdrop. “You want a certain FOMO (fear of missing out) among those who don’t attend, which helps build anticipation for your next event,” explains Delaney.
On that note, never think of throwing a retail party as a one-and- done deal—it’s all about generating momentum. “Every spa should host a minimum of four events a year if they want to grow their business,” says Schandra. Be sure to add all attendees to your database so you can thank them for coming and invite them to the next one, and you’ll not only build plenty of buzz but big sales, to boot. Take that, e-commerce!
–by Allison Young
This story first appeared in the June issue of Dayspa magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.